Home Life and Arts Students honor loved ones during Día de los Muertos

Students honor loved ones during Día de los Muertos

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Day of the Dead alter on display Oct. 25 in Honors College.
Day of the Dead alter on display Oct. 25 in Honors College.
Photo by Mena Yasmine

Throughout the month of October, students have the opportunity to honor friends and loved ones who have passed away through a Day of the Dead alter.

The alter is an ode to Latinx culture and the commemorative holiday, Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos. The holiday lasts three days, beginning Oct. 31 and ending Nov. 2.

Michelle Sotolongo, Honors College student development specialist, said she and a friend decided to put up the alter ten years ago when she was an undergraduate. She said they made the alter because she did not see much of her culture represented on campus.

“We decided to set up an alter using our own private skull collections and different things we had,” Sotolongo said. “My friend’s mom even sent us some stuff from Mexico to add to it, like actual sugar skulls and things like that.”

Sotolongo said the alter is a tribute to her ancestors, heritage and loved ones who have passed away.

“(The alter) is a way of just commemorating our connection to them and our experiences,” Sotolongo said.

Sotolongo said the belief is that loved ones come back to visit the human realm on Earth during Día de los Muertos. Items like marigold flowers, candles and food are used as guides for the spirits.

“It’s more of a celebratory tradition rather than one of mourning,” Sotolongo said. “It’s definitely not Halloween, even though many seem to conflate the two.”

Cherokee Barnett, psychology freshman, said there are not a lot of things representing Latinx culture on campus, and she is glad to have the alter.

“While I’ve been here, I’ve had more friends ask me about (the alter) and what it means, and that’s a good thing,” Barnett said.

Mark Chávez, graduate student, said he thinks it is important a Hispanic Serving Institution allows students the opportunity to celebrate their heritage.

“Having an alter really allows students to have that outlet in which they can express themselves and honor their loved ones,” Chávez said. “Losing a loved one is such a common thing for students their first year, so it’s a really nice thing they’ve done for us.”

The alter will be located on the 4th floor of Lampasas through the remainder of October and until Nov. 2. Students are encouraged to contribute to the alter to honor their friends and loved ones.

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